“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not….Habit is persistence in practice. Forget talent. If you have it, fine. Use it. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent.”–Octavia Butler, “Furor Scribendi”
This epigraph, along with the nature of ENGL431: Conversations: Octavia Butler & Social Ties with Beth McCoy, leads us to create habits of thinkING about our work rather than relying on the ‘talent’ of essay writing. Although I am thankful for the English department being so strong at Geneseo, it is easy to fall into the idea that peers are smarter or more talented than myself. I’m sure everyone has felt this in some aspect of their life; if not the major, a hobby or a skill. It is so easy to just give up. What I am learning, maybe later than I’d wish but not too late, is that creating a habit is just as easy as quitting. Instead of being discouraged, we are encouraged in our class to just continue. Practice. Think. ThinkING. Talent is not a continuous process. I believe that the epigraph reminds us that practicing something everyday is more important than hoping to be good at something. If we were to only trust our initial strengths, we would never grow and learn new things. If we only waited for inspiration to write, our words may never see light. We would never change — a quality that we have been witness to as being very dangerous. We should also remind ourselves we do have talents; but instead of relying on them we must share them with others. This is essential to bringing people together. By observing and learning from each other we can strengthen both our own expertise and our relationships with the people around us.
I am acknowledging here that as I am writing this essay on continuing to grow and learn I’m turning this in late. More than late. It is incredibly difficult in this global pandemic to continue to find motivation. If you’re reading this, please try to keep going. Keep the thinkING going. If not for you reading this, for myself. It is not our time to give up yet.
“Learn and Run!” From Octavia Butler’s Dawn
Another epigraph that has been presented in the syllabus of our course. Similar to the previously mentioned epigraph, Butler is expressing that we must take what we learn and apply it to our life. Create that habit mentioned prior. Continue the thinkING that is pushed. It is not enough for us to learn and keep this knowledge stored. We all can learn so much from each other. Learning is never limited to the classroom. This is apparent in Dawn when Lilith is forced to learn and run. She must learn from a new alien planet after her world is ruined and literally keep going. Easier said than done, using knowledge to connect with others is one of the greatest ways that humans can find a relationship. We should not only allow ourselves to educate each other, but be willing to listen to others when they want to teach us something new, even if it is indirectly.
“I chose a spot near the river. There I prepared the seed to go into the ground. I gave it a thick, nutritious coating, then brought it out of my body through my right sensory hand. I planted it deep in the rich soil of the riverbank. Seconds after I had expelled it, I felt it begin the tiny positioning movements of independent life.” -Octavia Butler, Imago
This epigraph, the third and final one, is the one that sticks with me most. I quite literally used to go to a spot near a creek in my childhood to get away from the then-stress; if only I could revisit this spot now in a time of stress among us all. I believe here that the seed is strength. We have to tell ourselves that we will get stronger. However, we have to treat our minds like a seed. We grow with nourishment — in this case knowledge — and time. People famously say that life is short, but life is quite literally the longest event we will ever endure. True change, true learning, and getting better all take time. When we try to rush these things we become obsessed with stress and overwhelm ourselves in an effort to get by. This has been the ultimate struggle for me. It circles back to the idea of habit; a continuation of the self care we need. Small changes in the beginning can make us feel better instantly. Think about it — a bedroom looks so much cleaner after just making the bed. We all can start a journey to a better self by making the smallest changes in our habits. Make productivity and happiness an every day routine.
This semester, my goal is to make it. The end is so incredibly close; it is not time to give up. Every day is another battle, another due date. I want to be able to say that my last real semester here was still a good one in spite of the pandemic.
If anyone is reading this — I hope you can soon find the motivation and strength. If you’re doing well, keep going. We’ll get there soon.